On your first birthday, I got you a present, but I actually wrote cards to J and E. Well…they weren’t so much cards as they were letters. And maybe they weren’t so much letters as they were small novels. But either way, your first birthday was kind of like our first birthday as a family. I had chosen them and met them months before you showed up, but our families didn’t truly become one until that beautiful summer day.
Of course, J and I like to write each other all the time, and the birthday letter I wrote her was no small feat. She even wrote me one back that birthday weekend. But today, I kept thinking about the letter I wrote E.
The letter I wrote E was actually partially about my own father, Pop-pop 3. I’ll tell you all about growing up with Pop-Pop 3 one day – there’s just too much love and too much fun to fit it all in a couple of letters. He was, and continues to be, an amazing father to me. He was “the best-of-the-best” when it came to dads, as I told E. And though a lot of that is due to his constant support and constant pride and constant reminders that I am loved by him, that “best-of-the-best” title is also due to the little things.
Pop-pop 3 and I played ball all the time. Before we had a basketball goal in the driveway, he would empty out the garage and use our giant trash can as the “goal.” He would throw me pop-flies in the yard when we played baseball. He taught me how to throw a spiral football. He would play with me until it got too dark to see outside, and only then would we go back inside. He would take me out for ice cream every Wednesday in middle school, and then he’d hang out with me in the local library until I had dance class. He did a million little things for me, but they meant the most. They still do. Only now instead of ice cream, we go out for coffee. Instead of playing ball with me, he’ll change my oil or quietly help me do laundry when I’m deeply absorbed in my homework and not paying attention. Like I said…little things.
I’ve always known that he loves me to the ends of the earth. “To infinity and beyond” as we always say (thank you, Buzz Lightyear). And my dad actually had a big influence on your adoption. I wanted you to have a dad like mine. I wanted your childhood to be everything mine was – filled with love and little things. And though I would have absolutely given those things to you – pop-flies, football until dark, ice cream Wednesdays – I wanted you to do those things with a dad, too. I wanted you to have a dad who does the small things, who never lets you forget that he loves you, whose love is obvious, even when he’s not saying it out loud.
E is that dad. Just like Pop-pop 3, he loves doing those little things. I saw that even before you were born, in the way he was with Sports Man. I saw in the pictures of him goofing around with Sports Man. I saw it in the way he showed off videos of how Sports Man could read and play basketball. It is no different with you. He loves playing the same games with you over and over, no matter silly they are. He loves playing ball outside. When you were just a month old, he already had the tradition of getting up with you, feeding you and then holding you while he drank coffee on the porch.
No one has ever reminded me of my own father as much as E does, and it’s beyond heartwarming. As my letter said, every time I see the two of you together, my hearts swells so much, I swear it could burst. He doesn’t even need to tell me how much he loves you. I can see it in the small things, sometimes just in the way he looks at you. Just like Pop-pop 3. And just like me, I’m pretty sure your first word was “da-da.”
As I’m sure you already know, your laugh is famous, and it’s also one of my favorite sounds in the whole wide world. As a matter of fact, quite a few of my favorite videos of you have you laughing in them. This one is of you and E, and it’s the first time I ever heard you laugh, which is why I treasure it so much. And of course, who was the first person I ever saw with ability to make you laugh? E.
You and I are quite the pair of lucky ones to have the dads that we do. When you’re finally old enough to read this, give E a hug when you’re done. Until then, I’ll give him twice as many hugs for the both of us :)